Earlier in March JOHN FRUM unveiled the video for the song “Presage of Emptiness,” and at that time, I knew I had to review their new album A Stirring In the Noos out May 12 via Relapse Records. This project took six years to make and includes THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN bassist Liam Wilson, and ex-THE FACELESS vocalist Derek Rydquist. This new record is supposed to streamline over forty minutes worth of merciless death metal chaos, which made me hope it was going to be good. The name JOHN FRUM is derived from an isolated group of natives in the South Pacific islands known as a Cargo Cult, whose encounter with the outside world led to an awakening of intoxicating the mind with creative freedom.
The album begins on a strong note with the song “Presage of Emptiness.” It introduces a dark realm as it transports you to various levels of chaos including exceptional work by Wilson on bass. Heavy explorations continue with the next “Pining Light” as Rydquist’s screaming vocals moves as the main attraction. However, the rhythm drastically changes during “Memory Palace” with a slow and quiet introduction. It begins with an intro that should remind horror fanatics of a horror film score. The spooky vibe explodes with a sluggish doom-like riff, leading to a no mercy conclusion.
Ruthless aggression continues in the next “Through Sand and Spirit,” and it features quite a few killer riffs. At this point, you enter a flow of brutal delight as it circulates with distortions until it moves into the next song “Lacustrine Divination.” The album enters an instrumental break with the tune “He Come,” which also takes the listener on a trance-filled adventure. There are a handful of different melodies and moods, making it sound more like a jam session or filler track. The second half of the track is stronger than the first, as it concludes with a lengthy electronic fade out.
The electronic sounds continue in the next “Assumption of Form.” This tune switches between metal breakdowns and melodic repetitions which one can easily get lost with. The album concludes on a chaotic note with “Wasting Subtle Body.” It doesn’t change too much of the initial style, but it does have a few intense drum pacing moments pairing well with the guitar arrangements.
I expected more diversity from JOHN FRUM. There were quite a few talented and impressive moments, but as a whole, there was too much repetition. Despite taking six years to produce an album with certain levels of freedom, perhaps the second run will find more attention-grabbing movements.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Presage of Emptiness” and “Memory Palace”